Who’s Taking Care Of HR?

Who’s Taking Care Of HR?

Woman having a video chat forming her hands into a heart shapeUntil 2020, had you ever heard the terms “social distancing” or “social isolation”? As a society, we might have exchanged an elbow bump during cold and flu season; perhaps that could be viewed as social distancing, but I don’t ever think I heard the phrase “social distancing” until the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prior to joining Pine Rest Employee Assistance Program (EAP), I was a Human Resources professional for 20 years and today empathize with many of my colleagues who are not only handling the typical day-to-day responsibilities of HR, but are now also dealing with COVID-19 and all the challenges that come with that. Many are identifying essential and non-essential employees, furloughs, layoffs, etc. For some, it is helping employees navigate through unemployment claims in a system that was not meant for a few million to file a claim nearly all at once. Daunting.

Meanwhile, Human Resource professionals are also faced with children home from school and college, a spouse who is working from home or possibly laid off, while checking on parents, family members and neighbors.

Who takes care of Human Resources when HR is the caregiver to everyone? What are you doing to take care of YOU during these times?

As I participated in video conference calls this past month, I saw the anguish of my HR colleagues. They are stretched, exhausted, and simply trying to keep it all together. While the HR professional is not on the front lines like a doctor, nurse or EMS worker, they are always trying to be positive while constantly showing employees they are valued, appreciated, and cared for. Oftentimes, HR serves as mom or dad, nurse, coach, counselor, mentor, and yes, even referee. They spend so much time taking care of the organization and their own family, that they forget to care of themselves. There’s simply no time.

Early in my career, I failed miserably at taking care of myself during times of chaos and confusion in my personal life. Being a new mother of an adopted teenager and his younger brother was much more challenging than I could ever imagine.

What I learned through that phase of life is how important it is take care of myself – my whole self. That means feeding your soul, your mind and your heart.

Resilient HR leaders rise above the chaos and confusion and prioritize their work and home life challenges, meeting each one step at a time, and one employee at a time. Today, my adult children still challenge me, but they also taught me how resilient I can be, and how much I love the HR profession because we bring the “human” into Human Resources. We bring empathy, care and compassion to so many lives.

In the middle of this pandemic, remember to take care of your whole self. Feed your soul, your mind and your heart.

As COVID-19 progresses, and we continue to flatten the curve by staying home and staying safe…

  • What happens when an employee or one of their family members test positive?
  • What is the legal response from your organization?
  • What is your communication to them, to their team and to the organization?
  • What are your company’s values?
  • What do you want to most be remembered for when this is all over?
  • What will your employees remember about how you handled this situation and treated them during this pandemic?

If health is the new wealth, it really isn’t about money, status or power. It is remembering that you, too, matter! It is about taking care of yourself – your whole self.

Remember, to show the human in Human Resources, and your employees will reflect on that in the days to come, after this pandemic is over.


Jo Carlson is an account manager for the Pine Rest Employee Assistance Program. She has a Master’s of Human Resources Management degree from Central Michigan University and over 20 years of human resources experience in manufacturing, construction, warehouse distribution and education. Jo enjoys mentoring young, upcoming HR professionals.



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